Game review: Luftrausers

By: Billy Tuite

Feeling nostalgic for the old, arcade-style space shooters of yesteryear, like “Asteroids” and “Space Invaders?” Dutch game developer Vlambeer is here to satiate your retro appetite while still giving you a modern zest in their latest dogfighting distraction, “Luftrausers.”

(Note: this review becomes way more enjoyable to read if you pronounce the title as “love trousers.”)

The basic concept of “Luftrausers” is quite simple: pilot your B-17-inspired World War II aircraft through the open skies on a two-dimensional plane while gunning down a smorgasbord of enemy air fighters and naval vessels to rack up the highest score possible. Of course, enemies will fight back, so you’ll also have to dodge hundreds of projectiles that will quickly fill up the screen. On the surface, it’s not unlike something you’d find in a 1980s arcade.

What truly makes “Luftrausers” unique, though, is its neo-retro mix of old and new philosophies. The game employs a visual style akin to the original Gameboy with a monochrome palette and pixelated silhouettes for the various sea and aircraft, but it breaks away from the technical limitations of the past with stunning art design, fluid animation and awesome explosions.

There’s also a lot of complexity to the controls. Rather than directly move your aircraft, you must account for gravity when rotating and thrusting in the desired direction. Mastering the aerodynamic nuance of your plane will make you feel like a true Red Baron.

“Luftrausers,” like its arcade ancestors, is also a humbling experience. The number of enemies can quickly become overwhelming, resulting in death after death. Luckily, you can unlock upgraded parts for your plane by accumulating higher scores and completing challenges.

The main flaw with “Luftrausers” is that its simple gameplay hook won’t satisfy everyone. Those who aren’t compelled by high scores alone won’t find a whole lot to do here since there’s no end goal or narrative holding it all together.

Still, at the low price of $10, you really can’t go wrong with “Luftrausers.” If nothing else, it will serve as a nice time-waster before class starts.

“Luftrausers” is available now on Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and all PC operating systems.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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